The Global Exploration Strategy Framework: Executive Summary
Space exploration enriches and strengthens humanity's future. Searching for answers to fundamental questions such as: 'Where did we come from?' 'What is our place in the universe?' and 'What is our destiny?' can bring nations together in a common cause, reveal new knowledge, inspire young people and stimulate technical and commercial innovation on Earth. The Global Exploration Strategy is key to delivering these benefits.
One of the most fundamental human characteristics is a relentless curiosity that drives us to investigate the unknown. Throughout our history, we have looked beyond our apparent boundaries to the mysteries that lie beyond.
Compelled to explore, to understand and to use the world in which we find ourselves, we have spread across continents and oceans. We have probed the farthest reaches of the planet--the frozen poles, the deep oceans, the high atmosphere. With increasing intent and determination, we are resolved to explore our nearest companions--the Moon, Mars and some nearby asteroids. Our goal is not a few quick visits, but rather a sustained and ultimately self-sufficient human presence beyond Earth supported by robotic pathfinders.
Sustainable space exploration is a challenge that no one nation can do on its own. This is why fourteen space agencies1 have developed The Global Exploration Strategy: The Framework for Coordination, which presents a vision for robotic and human space exploration, focussing on destinations within the solar system where we may one day live and work. It elaborates an action plan to share the strategies and efforts of individual nations so that all can achieve their exploration goals more effectively and safely.
This Framework does not propose a single global programme. Rather, it recommends a voluntary, non-binding forum, the international Coordination Mechanism, through which nations can collaborate to strengthen both individual projects and the collective effort.
Robust science and technology efforts, such as the pursuit of space exploration, help to define nations and their place in the world. The number of countries involved in space exploration is growing steadily and we are entering a new era of historic significance, in which we will extend human presence beyond Earth's orbit, physically and culturally.
The Moon is our nearest and first goal. As a repository of four billion years of solar system history, it has enormous scientific significance. It is also a base from which to study Earth and the universe, and to prepare humans and machines for venturing farther into space.
Mars is also a prime target. With an atmosphere and water, it may hold key secrets to the evolution of life in our solar system. Eventually, we hope to reach other, even more challenging destinations, such as asteroids and the moons of the giant planets. A partnership between humans and robots is essential to the success of such ventures. Robotic spacecraft are our scouts and proxies, venturing first into hostile environments to gather critical intelligence that makes human exploration feasible. Humans will then bring their ingenuity, creativity and problem-solving skills to these destinations.
This Global Exploration Strategy will bring significant social, intellectual and economic benefits to people on Earth. We will learn about the evolution of the solar system and how to protect against harsh environments. By understanding how planets work, we learn more about our Earth. The technologies created will help build a more sustainable society.
Space exploration also offers significant entrepreneurial opportunities by creating a demand for new technologies and services. These advances will encourage economic expansion and the creation of new businesses.
Finally, this new era of space exploration will strengthen international partnerships through the sharing of challenging and peaceful goals. It will inspire people everywhere, particularly youth. It will steer many students toward careers in science and technology and provide them with challenging jobs that encourage innovation and creativity.
Opportunities such as this come rarely. The human migration into space is still in its infancy. For the most part, we have remained just a few kilometres above the Earth's surface - not much more than camping out in the backyard. It is time to take the next step.
1 In alphabetical order: ASI (Italy), BNSC (United Kingdom), CNES (France), CNSA (China), CSA (Canada), CSIRO (Australia), DLR (Germany), ESA (European Space Agency), ISRO (India), JAXA (Japan), KARI (Republic of Korea), NASA (United States of America), NSAU (Ukraine), Roscosmos (Russia). "Space Agencies" refers to government organizations responsible for space activities.